What? Sonic Youth to perform on “Gossip Girl”

Sonic Youth, pioneers of the no-wave sound and arguably the most influential underground band of the 90s, clearly are doing whatever they feel like as they get older. The group has agreed to appear on CW’s hit show “Gossip Girl” to perform an acoustic version of their single “Starpower” from their 1986 album EVOL.

Sonic Youth is one of my favorite bands,” says GG showrunner Stephanie Savage, “and last year when I was doing my regular Gossip Girl google search, it came up in some blog about a Sonic Youth show that Thurston [Moore] was playing ‘Psychic Hearts’ and Gossip Girl was playing on a screen in the background. And I was like, ‘Whaaaat? Oh my God. I hope they’re not making fun of us! I hope it was a cool, edgy homage!’ And it turned out that it was — tongue in cheek for sure, but definitely with love, and that they were fans of the show.” (Perhaps worth mentioning: Moore and his bandmate and wife, Kim Gordon, have a 15-year-old daughter.)

Last year, Moore and Be Your Own Pet’s Jemina Pearl cut a cover of the Ramones’ “Sheena is a Punk Rocker” for use during Jenny Humphrey’s guerrilla fashion show, and Savage says the conversation continued from there. “We have a very special event coming in Episode 5 that we’re filming right now,” she says, “and they seemed the ideal musical guest for it.” But in fine GG fashion, Savage is mum about the exact circumstances of the festivities involved. “It’s a big event that involves [engaged adults] Rufus and Lily. Just draw your own conclusions,” she laughs.

Is it just me, or does the expression “they sold out” not even matter anymore? When I heard this news, I cared very little about the sanctity of the band being at stake. Media has become so intertwined over the last few years it’s difficult to tell what defines a true “underground artist.” Growing up a fan of punk music, I remember when the Vans Warped Tour — a tour traditionally featuring only punk bands — started including major label acts as well as rappers. People were fussy at first, but now you wouldn’t think twice about seeing Katy Perry share the same stage as Bad Religion. Punk darlings the Dropkick Murphys appeared on “Late Night with Conan O’Brien,” only to later perform countless times at Fenway Park before Red Sox games. Nobody complained.

It’s definitely a step in the right direction. The whole idea of “selling out” actually gives little credit to both the fans and the artists. We have the power to decide whether or not something has quality. Sonic Youth is a revolutionary band who has been around for three decades. It’s not hard to imagine that they’ve accrued fans in various professions. If the creator of “Gossip Girl” is a die-hard fan and wants to have them on her show, then so be it. Bands always use the excuse that these venues provide an outlet to a larger fanbase. In the case of Sonic Youth, I think they could give a damn.

Last year at the Grammys, the team of legendary rocker Robert Plant and country artist Alison Krauss won Album of the Year. In his acceptance speech, Plant said, “In the old days we would have called this selling out. But it’s a nice way to spend a Sunday.”


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